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President's Report to the Board of Regents

February 15, 2011

Good afternoon.

I begin this afternoon by welcoming three new Regents to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents. I am pleased to welcome Regent Michael Hawks, Regent Mike Morris and Regent Beth Fitzsimmons. They bring significant business and government experience to our governing board. I look forward to working with each of them as we continue to build on the positive improvement in the academic success of our students in advancing toward their degree, enrollment growth, and the revitalization of academic space across campus. 

It also is a day to honor the service of Emeritus Regents Gary Hawks and Philip Incarnati who completed their terms and made many important contributions to this institution. Regent Incarnati was first appointed in 1992, and reappointed twice. Regent Hawks was appointed in 2007. Both have served this institution with great distinction. A reception in their honor will be held following today’s meeting. We also acknowledge the service of Mohamed Okdie, who submitted his resignation to Governor Snyder on February 7. 

I also want to recognize Regent Floyd Clack, who is receiving a 2011 Genesee District Library Award of Excellence. The presentation will be made this Saturday.

Enrollment continues to grow heading into fall 2011, as we seek to add to our 7 percent enrollment increase over the last two years, which translates to 1,577 additional students for a total of 23,503 as of the fall 2010 opening. Compared to last year, fall 2011 freshman applications are up 32 percent (2,537); transfer applications are up 50 percent (429); and graduate applications are up 24 percent (291).

We are currently in the budget planning process for 2011-2012. We held a retreat with the Board of Regents yesterday to review capital and operating budgets and solicit their input in building a budget recommendation for their adoption. The University Budget Council (UBC) is meeting bi-weekly to provide input and their recent recommendations were shared with the Board. We also are addressing budget challenges for the current fiscal year resulting from lower tuition revenue and higher expenditures than initially projected. We have taken action to address some of the shortfall and are hoping to find the rest.

The 2011-2012 budget promises to be one of the most challenging we have faced. Governor Rick Snyder, while supportive of higher education in general, has made it clear that there will be shared-sacrifice as he erases a $1.8 billion state budget deficit. We will learn more when the Governor presents his budget this Thursday. We will have to look for greater cost-savings measures.  As I said in my message to the campus on January 20, difficult discussions and difficult decisions are ahead. We plan to conduct these discussions in an open and transparent manner, seeking input and ideas from all areas of our campus. Budget forums will take place as we engage the university community in this process. The next forum is on February 21 where John Lumm and I will present a budget update and Dr. Charles Ballard will speak on “Michigan’s Economy:  Past, Present and Future.”

We must maintain the positive momentum and pride in Eastern that we have generated, and the growth we have achieved. Other institutions face the same challenges. Universities that conduct this process with transparency, with civility, and with opportunities for input and involvement, will create a framework for long-term success. I am committed to working through this and creating an even stronger Eastern, working with our Board of Regents, our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and supporters. Together, we can achieve success.

In other important University news:

  • We appreciate the patience and understanding of our faculty and staff as our Business and Finance and HR teams worked to correct payroll and benefits issues that resulted in errors on the first paycheck in January for some employees. I understand the concern and confusion this caused for the employees affected. Blue Cross Blue Shield formally apologized to us for its role in the problem. The Business and Finance and HR teams believe all major systems issues have been addressed and corrected, although we continue to monitor Blue Cross Blue Shield to ensure reconciliation of co-pay errors for prescriptions, office visits, and chiropractic services. I have directed our teams to continue their vigilance in addressing this situation, and to respond immediately to any additional issues or concerns.
  • The fall to winter retention rate for first-time students has grown two consecutive years. The fall 2008 cohort to winter 2009 retention rate was 87.5 percent.  For the fall 2009 cohort to winter 2010, the retention rate rose to 92 percent. The rate increased to 93 percent for the fall 2010 cohort. The retention rate for the fall 2009 cohort of African-American students reached 77 percent, a 6 percent increase from the previous year.
  • The Higher Learning Commission recommended reaffirmation of Eastern’s accreditation, commending Eastern for our commitment to continuous quality improvement.
  • The move-in to the new addition of the Science Complex went smoothly. Approximately 2,000 students are now working in classrooms and labs, 80 sections of courses are being taught, and 50 faculty and lecturers have moved into offices. Work on the final punch-list of construction issues is under way.
  • We celebrated Martin Luther King Day with an annual luncheon attended by 500 people, including Congressman John Dingell who received an MLK Humanitarian Award. We also recently celebrated Chinese Week.
  • Academic Affairs hosted the Inaugural Diversity Summit: Voices to Inform Pedagogy, attended by approximately 125 faculty and staff. The program was developed by faculty to facilitate discussion about how to better integrate diversity awareness into our curriculum and interactions.
  • A “teach-in” on the unfolding situation in Egypt was coordinated by our Office of Academic Programs Abroad. Faculty members with expertise in Middle East studies and political reform movements were featured.
  • The College of Education admitted its first cohort of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows in the areas of science and mathematics.
  • New sustainability initiatives include eco-friendly, recyclable robes for students’ commencement, and the addition of three Hydration Stations at the Student Center
    for refilling water bottles. Designed to reduce plastic bottle waste, the equivalent
    of 2,100 8oz bottles were dispensed in the first five days of operation.
  • Important sexual harassment/assault training began last month and information regarding EMU’s newly designated Title IX coordinators was published on Eastern’s website (http://www.emich.edu/title-nine/).
  • Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business has maintained its accreditation by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Less than 5 percent of business schools worldwide (607) have earned the accreditation.
  • Our NCAA Athletics Certification Program is continuing, with the five subcommittees in the areas of governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender equity, diversity issues, and student-athlete well being, completing initial drafts of their self-study reports. The self-study is due to the NCAA on April 29, 2011.
  • We have been working to improve the access of our club sports programs to campus facilities. To help facilitate this, a graduate assistant was hired to serve as a liaison between the Rec/IM and club sport programs. The assistant will help with the scheduling of practices and travel arrangements, among other responsibilities.

In Athletics:

  • Student athletes with the University's 21 sports teams continue to excel in the classroom. The Fall 2010 cumulative GPA of 3.117 is the highest in our history. Thirty-two student athletes posted a 4.0 GPA.
  • The Eastern Michigan University E-Club will induct seven new members into the EMU Athletic Hall of Fame this Saturday.
  • We retired the jersey of women’s basketball great Laurie Byrd on February 5. She is the all-time leading scorer in Eastern’s history and the first woman basketball player to have her jersey displayed in the Convocation Center rafters. We will retire the jersey of men’s basketball great Earl Boykins during our game on Sunday, February 27. Earl led Eastern to our last NCAA appearance and now plays with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

The "Invest. Inspire." capital campaign has reached the $40 million mark – less than $10 million away from the $50 million target. More information can be found at emufoundation.org. Thank you to the hundreds of faculty, staff, alumni and friends who are making an important contribution to our efforts to establish and maintain a first-class learning environment in order to better prepare students for success in their careers.

Chairman Wilbanks, this concludes my report. 

Thank you. 

Susan Martin

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